We did it! On Monday my friends and I witnessed the complete and awesome total eclipse of the sun!
Just a few weeks ago, I was determined to drive north nearly 300 miles to Casper, Wyoming so I could watch the eclipse in the “path of totality”. Most friends were busy and/or uninterested in making the trek, yet Vicki said she was keen. Game on! With hotels sold out for years in advance, we thought our best bet was to drive there and sleep in the back of her SUV. Then, we invited Kim – and her camper van – to come along too. We all just KNEW leaving an eclipse zone of 93% coverage to go to a 100% zone would be absolutely worth it!
Our Sunday afternoon drive north was uneventful, traffic was light, and we easily found the Green Acres Corn Maze which was to be our spot of grass for the next 20 hours. Dwayne from Green Acres said they had just mowed an additional field, opening up spaces for a thousand RVs, camper vans and cars. We rolled into our spot at the western end of the field, and as one of the last arrivals of the day, we earned a mostly unobstructed view of the sunset.
We set up our camp, with chairs, a table, a couple of coolers and a tent. (The camper only sleeps two comfortably so I was happy to toss my sleeping bag in the tent.) We ate, drank wine and told stories and generally celebrated our good fortune of what was to come. We were soooo excited, knowing we were about to witness The Great American Solar Eclipse!
It was cold and dark when I woke, just before dawn. I rolled out of my tent, and grabbed my camera so I could shoot sunrise. It always impresses me how delicate the morning light is, and Monday’s dawn held true to that. Pretty pink and yellow lit the sky before the sun showed itself, and I liked watching how fast the earth turned – showing me more and more of that huge orange sphere.
I had not properly prepared for filming the eclipse and I scrambled to get my gear ready. After chatting up the professional looking photographers in the RV next to us, my mental light bulb when off and I ultimately built a solar filter for my camera lens using an extra pair of solar eclipse sunglasses and packing tape. I also wanted to take a time-lapse video of the eclipse and Vicki, a clever 5th grade teacher, creatively suggested I use the three bendable legs of my Jobi flashlight to make a stand for my iPhone. It worked :-).
We didn’t experience much shadowing from the eclipse until about 15 minutes before the total eclipse, but then as the sky darkened, the air cooled dramatically. We estimated the temperature dropped 10-15 degrees within minutes, and caught off guard, we were “too busy” experiencing – and being mesmerized by – the effects of the eclipse to put on extra layers.
The crowd was stunned into silence for the first few seconds of totality, and during the nearly three minutes of total eclipse, we felt sheer excitement. It was surreal! Our whole lives we knew, intellectually, what would happen in a total eclipse of the sun, yet it was still surprising, even shocking. We alternated between whooping it up and being speechless. It was really spectacular, and I was simply delighted to capture it on film! Perfect shots. Sooo happy.
The time-lapse experiment technically worked, but the quality wasn’t so great. That’s ok, we have our memories of the Great American Solar Eclipse. Nature was so good to us :-).